Find Your Routine: Consistency is Key
When it comes to coding and documentation, finding your own rhythm can lead to positive results. For our new series, Find Your Routine, we interviewed our most productive coders and asked them what steps they take to find a rhythm that works for them.
This week, we talked with Crystal Junkins, CCS, CPC, Coding Specialist with Health Information Associates, about the steps she takes to find her routine.
Q: Describe in detail your daily routine.
A: I’m an early bird – and so is my baby. I am up at 5:30 to feed the baby and have my first cup of coffee. I make breakfast for the two of us, and then switch off baby duty with my husband and the dog and I head upstairs to my office by 7:00. I read emails and go through my pending charts list, and then code until coffee break around 10. I code again until lunch and then break to feed the baby, and let the dog out. I finish coding around 3 in the afternoon, and then head right out the door to pick up the older kids from school – and then it’s homework, various sports and music lessons, prepping and eating dinner, reading, and then bedtime.
Q: How do you maintain your routine day after day, week after week?
A: I think I am just naturally a creature of habit. Health is a real priority, eating right, taking care of myself, getting enough sleep… all of that helps me maintain a regular rhythm at work as well as in my personal life as a mom to 3 busy boys. Our family life is so full of various schedules and responsibilities that the daily/weekly routine is pretty much created for me.
As far as coding goes, one obstacle I have noted to maintaining a rhythm mainly occurs when I am switching to a new client. I have often found it very challenging to start at a new client, especially since it definitely slows down my productivity quite a bit at first. However, I know that it has been a great asset for me professionally to learn how to adapt quickly to new clients, new relationships, new software, and new ways of approaching coding. HIA is constantly pushing me to grow, and that’s definitely one of the things I love about working here! So when I am starting a new client, I try to take some time to figure out the best workflow for that particular site, as it can vary so much from one place to another. They all abstract a bit differently or store their documents and information in new places. And then once I get into a fluent workflow, I stick with it. I generally go through every chart exactly the same way (abstract/discharge disposition, admit order, CDI notes, H&P, Discharge Summary, Op notes, Consults, Progress notes, anesthesia notes, labwork/etc). I think being consistent in this way helps me hit my productivity numbers at a new client faster.
Q: What techniques have you found to minimize distractions?
A: One thing that is very helpful is just the location of my office in our home. I am upstairs tucked away in a spare bedroom, far from the kitchen and living room downstairs which is often a bustle of activity between the comings and goings of my husband, the dog, the 2 older boys, the baby and the nanny who watches him during the day while I work. I really can’t hear much of anything up there! I also leave my cell phone on the charger in the kitchen during the day and just check it when I come downstairs for lunch or coffee. I focus a lot better when it’s quiet, so I usually don’t have music playing either.
Q: What are the productivity goals that you set for yourself? And how do you track them?
A: Well – it’s great that HIA does the productivity tracking for me! I just try to log in and do my best every day. Some days seem to flow really smoothly and feel easily productive. And then some days… just feel really slow and challenging. I try not to worry about the numbers and just figure that the good and the bad days will balance each other out in the end.
Q: What motivates you the most? Positive feedback from managers, self-motivation by reaching personal goals, financing incentives? Or other?
A: Yes, all of those things are motivating. But mostly, I just like to end every day feeling like I did a good job. My dad told me that was the most important thing – and he’s right.
TIP: I know for sure that I am not the fastest chart reader around, but I am definitely a fast typer. I am a piano performance graduate – so I know I have a head for memorizing information and fast fingers.
I am sure typing fast helps a lot, but more importantly, I think I am always looking for ways to type less. I know that CAC programs can be controversial, but I definitely make use of it as a tool when I am working for a client who is utilizing auto suggested codes. I use the CAC codes as much as possible, when I am confident that the suggested codes are correct. At first I was hesitant to use the codes the CAC was suggesting, but now that I am becoming more familiar with the I10 codes, I can save a lot of time by entering the codes and POA status through the CAC instead of typing it all in. The fewer key strokes the better! I know my productivity has gone up since I started making better use of the CAC.
This is Part 5 of a five part series on the new 2021 CPT codes. For the remaining areas we will just briefly summarize the section. Due to the intricate nature of these sections in CPT, it is recommended that the coder read the entire section notes associated with the new codes.
This is Part 4 of a five part series on the new 2021 CPT codes. In this series we will explore the CPT changes in the urinary, nervous, ocular and auditory systems. There are 2 new urinary/male reproductive system codes with no revisions or deletions; 3 new female reproductive codes with 2 deletions, 0 new with 4 deleted nervous system codes with 5 revisions; 5 new eye category III codes; and finally a 2 new auditory codes with one deletion.
This is Part 3 of a five part series on the new 2021 CPT codes. In this series we will explore the cardiovascular system CPT changes. There are 5 new cardiovascular CPT codes added with 0 deletions and 4 revisions.
This is Part 2 of a five part series on the new 2021 CPT codes. In this series we will explore the CPT changes for FY2021 and include some examples to help the coder understand the new codes. There are 0 new musculoskeletal CPT codes added with 0 deletions and 2 major revisions along with an extensive update to arthroscopic loose body removal requirements. For the respiratory system, there were 2 new codes, one code deletion and no revisions.
This is Part 1 of a five part series on the new 2021 CPT codes. In this series we will explore the CPT changes for FY2021 and include examples to help the coder understand the new codes. For 2021 in general, there were 199 new CPT codes added, 54 deleted and 69 revised.
In January, new CPT codes were released. There were 248 new CPT codes added, 71 deleted and 75 revised. Most of the surgery section changes were in the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular subsections. These included procedures such as skin grafting, breast biopsies, deep drug delivery systems, tricuspid valve repairs, aortic grafts and repair of iliac artery.
We have seen many updates and changes to COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) since the pandemic started. On January 1, 2021 we will see even more changes as outlined in this post. Also the CMS MS-DRG grouper will be updated to version 38.1 to accommodate the changes.
In the previous three parts of this four-part series, we discussed the new ICD-10-CM diagnosis code changes, ICD-10-PCS procedure code changes and FY2021 IPPS changes. In this last Part 4 of the series, we will review the NTAP procedure codes and reimbursement add-on payments for FY2021.
In the previous two parts of this four part series, we discussed the new ICD-10-CM diagnosis code changes and ICD-10-PC procedure code changes. In this session we will review the major IPPS changes for FY2021.
This is Part 2 of a 4 part series on the FY2021 ICD-10 Code and IPPS changes. In this part, the ICD-10-PCS procedure codes are presented. For FY2021 ICD-10-PCS there are 78,115 total codes (FY2020 total was 77,571); 556 new codes (734 new last year in FY2020)…
This is Part 1 of a 4 part series on the FY2021 changes to ICD-10 and the IPPS. In this part, we discuss some of the new ICD-10-CM diagnosis changes. Here is the breakdown: 72,616 total ICD-10-CM codes for FY2021; 490 new codes (2020 had 273 new codes); 58 deleted codes (2020 had 21 deleted codes); 47 revised codes (2020 had 30 revised codes)
Acute pulmonary edema is the rapid accumulation of fluid within the tissue and space around the air sacs of the lung (lung interstitium). When this fluid collects in the air sacs in the lungs it is difficult to breathe. Acute pulmonary edema occurs suddenly and is life threatening.
“Client S” is a small, not-for-profit, 40 bed micro-hospital in the Southeast. HIA performed a 65-record review this year for Client S and found an opportunity with 15 of them. 9 had an increased reimbursement with a total of $43,228 found.
The coma scale codes (R40.2-) can be used in conjunction with traumatic brain injury codes, acute cerebrovascular disease or sequelae of cerebrovascular disease codes. These codes are primarily for use by trauma registries, but they may be used in any setting where this information is collected. The coma scale may also be used to assess the status of the central nervous system for other non-trauma conditions, such as monitoring patients in the intensive care unit regardless of medical condition.
In the past, there had been an Excludes1 note at I46.- Cardiac arrest that excluded R57.0, Cardiac shock. HIA had also received a letter from AHA on a case in the past that had stated that only I46.- Cardiac arrest would be coded if both were documented. In addition, the Third Quarter Coding Clinic page 26 had a similar case that asked if both could be coded, and AHA had instructed that only I46.9, cardiac arrest, cause unspecified would be coded if both were documented and that the CDC would be looking at possible revision to the Excludes1 note.
A higher CMI corresponds to increased consumption of resources and increased cost of patient care, resulting in increased reimbursement to the facility from government and private payers, like CMS. We know that documentation directly impacts coding.
Lately we have seen several cases where the endarterectomy was assigned along with the coronary artery bypass (CABG) procedure when being performed on the same vessel to facilitate the CABG. A coronary artery endarterectomy is not always performed during a CABG procedure, so when it is performed it becomes confusing as to whether to code it separately or not.
Assign code Z20.828, “Contact with and (suspected) exposure to other viral communicable diseases” for all patients who are tested for COVID-19 and the results are negative, regardless of symptoms, no symptoms, exposure or not as we are in a pandemic.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new procedure codes for treatments of COVID-19 – effective as of August 1, 2020. Among the new codes are Section X New Technology codes for the introduction or infusion of therapeutics including Remdesivir, Sarilumab, Tocilizumab, transfusion of convalescent plasma, as well as introduction of any other or new therapeutic substances for the treatment of COVID-19.
One common element in many value-based programs is risk adjustment using Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCCs) to create a Risk Adjustment Factor (RAF) score. This method ranks diagnoses into categories that represent conditions with similar cost patterns.
Why are so many AKI records being denied? It’s hard to give one answer for why so many AKI records are being denied lately, but most appear to be due to the multiple sets of criteria available for use in determining if a patient has AKI, as well as physician documentation. As stated in Part 3 of this series, there are three main criteria/classifications used to diagnose AKI.
In previous parts of this series we looked at the definitions of AKI/ARF, causes, coding and sequencing, and the common clinical indicators that patients present with that are diagnosed with this condition. In Part 4, we will look at the documentation that should be present to report the diagnosis without fear of denial, as well as when a query is needed to clarify the diagnosis.
If the facility does a COVID-19 test, and test is negative, do I need a diagnosis code. The answer is yes, you will report a Z-code. The Z-code depends on the record documentation and circumstances of testing. For any patient receiving a COVID-19 test, if negative, there MUST e a Z-code to describe why the test was taken. (Test negative for COVID-19 and MD does not override negative results).
The FY2021 IPPS Proposed Rule is out and here are some highlights from it regarding ICD-10 Code proposals. We will know if these changes are permanent after the public comment period is over on July 10, 2020 and CMS prepares the Final Rule, usually out by August 1.
As discussed in Part 1 of this series, AKI/ARF is a common diagnosis that coders see daily. In Part 2, we are going to focus on the different types/specificity of AKI/ARF. We’ll learn what they mean, as well as how to code the diagnosis.
This is part 1 in a series focused on coding of acute kidney injury (AKI) and/or acute renal failure (ARF). AKI/ARF is reported often, but is also one of the most common diagnosis found in denials.
With the proliferation of COVID-19 cases, we thought we would put together a quick reference listing of some of the common scenarios that coders have asked about. As with all coding, coders should follow Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting and the COVD-19 Frequently Asked Questions document by the AHA.
Effective March 1, Medicare will pay physicians for telehealth services at the same rate as in-person visits for all diagnoses, not just services related to COVID-19. This great for providers whose patients are reluctant to visit the office.
The biggest reasons why some hospital systems are moving to single path coding is to eliminate duplicative processes and to optimize productivity. In addition, costs are reduced when only one coder “touches” the record and completes both types of coding.